Thanks to Invisalign’s chunky global marketing budget, awareness of its brand remains high in the UK and Ireland. Lately, as an extra measure, it’s been offering GDPs personalised discounts on the iTero intraoral scanner in return for hitting targets that climb for three years. As year three bites, many dental practice owners are promoting Invisalign hard to avoid losing the deal. Nothing wrong with that, but what do you do with all those patients who come in wanting Invisalign but aren’t suitable? We spoke to Sue Bessant at Wired Orthodontics to find out.
Sue, what is the opportunity here?
If all the retargeted promotional material that I’ve been seeing on Facebook is anything to go by, it’s a big one. I know a dentist who will save £8,500 on the cost of his iTero scanner if he hits 16 cases in year one, 34 in year two and 54 in year three. So independent practices do seem to be promoting Invisalign all over the place, which can only mean more brand awareness among potential patients. My question is: if you’ve paid money to attract these new patients — and even if you haven’t — why settle for one orthodontic solution that may be limited? The people coming to you and asking for Invisalign are interested in orthodontic treatment, and they have already been primed, so it’s safe to say they are high value leads. I would urge GDPs to consider themselves extremely fortunate for each one of these leads and to do their best to give them what they want: straight teeth.
Where do practice owners start?
The key thing is for you or your clinicians to learn how to diagnose and treatment plan beyond a single orthodontic system. If you only offer one solution like Invisalign you might find yourself with cases that give you a headache and take so much time that they aren’t profitable. You want to be able to assess which cases are going to be quickly and easily treated with aligners, and which cases you can treat more effectively with fixed braces. Not only are treatment times often shorter with fixed braces, lab fees are lower than big aligner brands, so there are higher margins, even with the associated surgery costs.
What’s in it for the patient?
The patient wants straight teeth, they don’t want to be going on a wild goose chase. If you can explain their options to them and follow through on their choice, it makes their life easier. There’s a compliance issue here too: if a patient is given a treatment plan that involves wearing aligners for three years, there’s a risk they’ll get fed up and stop wearing their aligners, jeopardising treatment efficacy. So why should they end up suffering if there are perfectly good alternatives available which are much quicker? If we’re honest, a GDP’s lack of orthodontic skills is no ethical defence. Think about consent: if you’re only offering aligners, are you really giving your patient all the options? In other words, is their consent watertight?
How long does it take to acquire broader orthodontic skills?
We run a Core of Knowledge course that takes 12 days over a year, the key advantage being you get ongoing supervision from a Specialist orthodontist all the way through, even after you begin taking on new patients, from treatment planning and through all your cases. You benefit from higher margins (Wired lab costs are about 75% lower than Invisalign), higher profits as you learn to handle multidisciplinary cases, and supervision that guarantees compliance. We also find that most delegates report higher job satisfaction.